This year a fourth wine blogging group was formed by Jeff of Food Wine Click! and we will be doing a deep dive into the wines of Spain in 2021. January had us looking at Rioja; you can read my article - with the links to everyone else - here. And this month, Susannah of Avvinare is hosting as we head to Catalunya.
All of these posts will be live by Saturday, February 27th when we'll be meeting for a live Twitter chat at 8am Pacific. Follow along with the hashtag #WorldWineTravel and be sure to add that to any tweets you posts so we can see them. Here's the #WorldWineTravel Catalunya line-up...
- Allison and Chris from Advinetures look at Cava: Spain’s Answer to Champagne.
- Andrea from The Quirky Cork enjoys Tapas with Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava.
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares Pollo a la Catalana + Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2019.
- David from Cooking Chat shines with Mushroom Fricassee and Red Wine from Priorat.
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator brings Sparkling Wine Secrets: Catalonia Cava from Marqués de Cáceres with Spanish Chorizo Kale Bean Stew.
- Jeff from Food Wine Click looks at Exploring the Variety of Still Wines from Catalunya.
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass showcases Pere Mata Cupada Rosé Cava: Finesse in a Glass.
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest posts Beyond Cava: Loxarel and Gramona Organic Sparkling Wines.
- Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog waxes poetic about A Taste of Can Descregut; Grower Spanish Sparkling Wine From The Corazón del Penedès.
- Melanie from Wining With Mel muses about Innovative Winemaking in Catalunya’s Penedès: Torres Gran Coronas Reserva.
- Nicole from Somm's Table pens On a Hilltop in Priorat.
- Payal from Keep The Peas joins with Bartender’s Choice from Priorat.
- Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles focused on Priorat DOQ in Spain’s Cataluña Region and Franck Massard’s 2015 Humilitat.
- Steve from Children of the Grape describes Cava by the Sea.
- Susannah from Avvinare thinks about Two Key Areas in Catalonia Wine Scene: Cava and Priorat.
- Terri from Our Good Life dished about Chicken Empanadas and Azimut Cava.
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on The Farm adds Enjoying Tapas with Spanish Wines from Catalonia.
As we are approaching a year of living in this pandemic, we haven't traveled much at all. One brief exception was when we went to visit my in-laws during Fall Break last October. It was a welcome respite from being sheltered-in-place and I celebrated by cooking dinners for the family every night. It was a nice way to spend time with my younger Kitchen Elf and my niece who is the same age. We cranked up the music or just chatted while we prepped and prepared dinner for about a dozen people everyday. It's always a treat to have the run of a commercial kitchen, right?
And being the serial planner that I am, I carried up a bunch of wines and knocked out pairings for several of my wine groups. So, one evening, we took a virtual trip to Catalunya and I served Pollo a la Catalana + Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2019.
Catalunya is a Spanish Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) for Catalan wine that was formed and recognized in 2001. Its purpose: support over two hundred wineries (bodegas) that were not included in other specific DOPs in Catalonia. Interestingly enough it isn't tied to a specific geographical location but instead is comprised of nearly 20 square miles of individual vineyards from all over Catalonia. Catalunya does allow winemakers to mix in grapes from other DOPs.
The bottle that I tracked down for this event was the 2019 Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat. Priorat is a tiny wine-producing region that is comprised almost completely of craggy, terraced vineyards. Until the early 1990s it was virtually abandoned. Then René Barbier arrived and set about revitalizing the region. With a base in the village of Gratallops, they aimed to revive the ancient vines and cultivate some new French grape varieties.
Because the new vines were well-recognized - think Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot - and the quality of the wines they were producing was high, Priorat is enjoying a renaissance. By the turn of the millennium, the area's vineyards had already doubled.
In the Glass
In 2015 Alvaro Palacios was named 'Man of the Year' by Decanter magazine. Though Palacios descends from the Rioja's Palacios Remondo family, he left Spain in his early 20s to work and study winemaking elsewhere, namely Bordeaux. But he returned to Spain and was drawn to highlighting traditional grape varieties such as Garnacha and Cariñena.
This wine is a blend comprised of 35% Garnacha, 24% Syrah, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cariñena, 10% Merlot, and 3% other varieties. The grapes were destemmed and lightly crushed before being fermented in a combination of stainless steel, oak, and concrete tanks. After fermentation, the wine was left to mature in oak barrels for another four months.
The wine poured an inky purple. To the nose, aromas were savory with hints of fennel and balsamic. And on the palate those aromas were mirrored with more licorice and spice. This wine was intense but approachable and elegant.
On the Plate
For these #WorldWineTravel events I am going to try to post pairings with food that hails from the same region, or at least inspired from the region. You have probably heard the adage: what grows together, goes together. Pollo a la Catalana, Catalan-style chicken, is a warming dish that's great in the Fall. Chicken is browned, then braised in a sauce of onions, tomatoes, and wine with prunes and raisins. It's so delicious.
I did add in some ground Spanish chorizo from local-to-me PigWizard for even more flavor, but that is not traditional. And the photos - large pots and trays - were for fifteen or sixteen people. The recipe and quantities below serve six.
Ingredients serves 6
- 1 cup prunes, pitted
- 1 cup raisins
- warm water
- 1/2 pound ground chorizo
- 3-1/2 pounds chicken, cut into pieces if whole (we used leg quarters)
- 2 teaspoons smoked or sweet paprika (we used smoked paprika)
- 1 cup onions, peeled and chopped (we used a red onion)
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 2 cups diced tomatoes (we used can)
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil plus more as needed
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup sliced almonds (traditional is pine nuts, but I used what we had)
- freshly ground salt
- freshly ground pepper
Place prunes and raisins in a bowl and cover with warm water. Let soak for at least 2 hours. Drain and set aside.
Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large pot and cook the chorizo until done. Add in remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil and place chicken legs in the same pot and sprinkle with paprika, salt, and pepper. Brown the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Add in the onions, celery, diced tomatoes. Pour in the chicken stock and wine.
Bring liquid to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let chicken braise for 60 minutes. Sir in the almonds and the soaked fruit. Let simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove chicken from the pot and place the pieces on a serving platter or tray. Bring the sauce to a rolling boil and cook until thickened to your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, as needed.
To serve, place chicken on individual serving plates and spoon thickened sauce over the top.
Serve with rice or bread on the side.
That's a wrap for our virtual trip to Catalunya with the #WorldWineTravel group. We'll be back next month with an exploration of wines of Castilla y Leon with Allison of Advinetures leading the discussion. Stay tuned....